LONDON: World motor racing champion Lewis Hamilton has been knighted in the New Year Honours List.
MBEs have been awarded – belatedly – to Jimmy Greaves and Ron Flowers, the last two surviving members of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad not to have been honoured.
Hamilton’s remarkable year saw him equak Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Formula One titles and become an increasingly powerful voice for diversity in his sport. The 35-year-old is the fourth F1 driver to be knighted after two fellow Britons, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart, and Australia’s Sir Jack Brabham.
There had been a question mark over whether Hamilton would be knighted given he lives in the tax haven of Monaco but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reported to have intervened to ensure the reward.
It was confirmed on Wednesday that Hamilton, who in September also set up a commission to analyse the lack of diversity in motor racing, had been recognised through the “diplomatic and overseas” list rather than the domestic list to avoid controversy over his tax returns.
In women’s football Gill Coultard, the first to win 100 senior England football caps, received an MBE – a gong that was also given to Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup tennis captain Anne Keothavong.
The former Leeds Rhino scrum-half Rob Burrow, who has motor neurone disease, was also granted and MBE in recognition of services to his sport and in raising MND awareness during the coronavirus pandemic.
His former teammate, the Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield, ran seven marathons in seven days to raise funds for the MND Association on Burrow’s behalf, with the total now more than £2.5m.
The Exeter director of rugby, Rob Baxter, was awarded an OBE and the team’s captain, Joe Simmonds, an MBE after the Chiefs won the Premiership title and the European Champions Cup.
Bob Champion, who won the 1981 Grand National on Aldaniti after recovering from cancer, has been awarded a CBE for his charitable work at the Bob Champion Cancer Trust.
Matt Hampson, who was paralysed from the neck down during a training session with the England Under-21 rugby union team in 2005, has been awarded an OBE for services to charity through his foundation which supports others who sustain catastrophic injuries in sport.